How educated is Indonesia


Andreas Ufen

To person

Dr. phil .; research assistant at the GIGA Institute for Asian Studies; currently substitute professor for political science at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg; GIGA, Rothenbaumchaussee 32, 20148 Hamburg. [email protected]

Democratization has given Islamist forces new opportunities to spread their ideas. But there is evidence that certain forms of radical Islam have weakened.


Since Suharto's forced resignation in May 1998, Indonesia has been in a process of democratization. The country was hardest hit by the Asian crisis in the region in 1998 and had an underdeveloped civil society - despite the fact that radical political reforms were brought about quickly. When the most important revisions of the constitution were completed and competitive and largely fair elections were held for the second time in 2004, observers said that the phase of transition from authoritarianism to democracy had been completed and that the period of democratic consolidation could begin. [1] The first direct presidential elections in 2004 and 2009, as well as the numerous direct elections of governors, district heads and mayors since 2005, were also rated as essentially "free and fair" by national and international election observers, and the political system is now accepted by a majority.

However, this transition is by no means linear. According to Greg Fealy [2] and Marcus Mietzner [3], electoral democracy was consolidated until around 2006, but since then there has been no significant improvement in the quality of democracy - in some respects it has even deteriorated somewhat. Indicators of this are the setbacks in the fight against corruption, the increasing commercialization of politics, the stalemate in military reforms and disillusionment with the parties.

For a few years now, observers have also noticed that relations between the Muslim-Sunni mainstream and members of religious minorities and non-Orthodox Muslims are deteriorating. The opinion research institute LSI (Lembaga Survei Indonesia) showed, for example, in a 2007 study [4] that 33 percent of those questioned supported measures that are typically among the goals of Islamist organizations. [5] 43 percent were in favor of stoning in the event of adultery, 25 percent in favor of the obligation to wear a headscarf, 34 percent in favor of cutting off hands in the event of theft, 39 percent in favor of the interest ban, and 22 percent were of the opinion that a woman should not take over the presidency. The achieved quite comparable results Muslim Youth Survey 2010, which was created in November 2010 by the LSI in cooperation with the Goethe Institute and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. [6]

Against this background, the increasing influence of conservative Muslims becomes more understandable. For several years, ordinances based on Sharia law have been passed in numerous districts; they prohibit prostitution, alcohol consumption and gambling or prescribe certain forms of clothing and behavior, especially for women. In 2009, in the province of Aceh on the island of Sumatra, Islamic criminal law was introduced, including stoning in the event of adultery. In 2008, conservative politicians enforced the pornography law in the Indonesian parliament: It provides for high penalties for vaguely defined "lewd" representations and actions. An inter-ministerial decree a few years ago gave members of the Ahmadiyya sect permission to assemble but not to spread their teachings, whereupon the sect became increasingly targeted by Islamists. According to the Indonesian non-governmental organization Setara, there were a total of 135 attacks on members of other denominations for religious reasons in 2007, compared to 216 in 2010 and 244 in 2011. In Bogor, where the governor is currently overriding a ruling by the Supreme Court and preventing members of the GKI Yasmin are able to hold services in their church, the Presbyterian community is threatened by Islamist groups. In 2011 and most recently in January 2012 there were attacks on boarding schools by Shiites in Pasuruan and Sampang (East Java). When a district court sentenced a priest to five years in prison for blasphemy in February 2011, extremists who found the sentence too lenient (demanding the death penalty) attacked three churches in Temanggung, central Java. [7] In view of the accumulation of such processes, one cannot speak of isolated individual cases.

The increase in interreligious tensions and the greater presence of a large number of Islamist organizations is a consequence of the democratic opening that has opened up new spaces for radical Muslims, and globalization, which intensifies transnational influences and at the same time the need for a clear distinction between what is one's own and what is foreign is growing leaves. In Indonesia this leads to pluralization and reduced tolerance towards minorities at the same time. Despite this, politically moderate Islam is still dominant in this diversity, and the young, electoral democracy is not fundamentally endangered by Islamists, at least in the medium term.